Why the NBA Shutdown Could Benefit the LA Clippers
Before the NBA (and the rest of the world) came to a halt, the LA Clippers were enjoying their best season to date. The team's 44-20 record is tied for the best mark in franchise history through 64 games, and it looked like they were still just getting started.
There have only been a few things going against the Clippers this season, and the main issue is health. Just four players have appeared in 55 or more games, which has forced the coaching staff to get creative with their rotations.
In all, LA has used 29 different starting lineups — 23 of which have only been used once, per Basketball-Reference. For comparison, the Los Angeles Lakers have used 8, and the Milwaukee Bucks have used 11.
On top of that, LA's most common starting five can't even be created anymore, since it includes Moe Harkless. The current group, which has Marcus Morris in Harkless' old place, has only been used 8 times.
And while the team's players haven't been able to meet up or practice together during the hiatus, this time should allow players like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who have each missed 10+ games due to injury this season, to get fresh and fully recover.
It helps that the franchise has been so proactive in its response to the pandemic. Within weeks of the shutdown, every player on the team essentially had a home gym shipped to their address so they could participate in remote workouts with each other and the training staff. The only thing some players haven't been able to do is shoot, but with the practice facility open for the first time in months, that's possible again.
The Clippers didn't hold frequent practices this season either, but based on a rumored NBA return timeline, teams will have roughly one month of training camp before jumping back into games in mid-July — allowing the Clippers to get completely familiar with each other.
If the NBA does return sometime this summer, the Clippers could be one of the league's most improved teams. And that's saying a lot, considering they've been among the favorites to win the NBA Finals this year.